about the universe forum commander Shop Now Commanders Circle
Product List FAQs home Links Contact Us

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Steve Cole reports:

I keep seeing these articles in TV Guide about what shows some celebrity watches. Well, I don't care what any celebrity watches, but I'm sure you all care what I watch, so this is my review of the "summer" television shows:

BURN NOTICE: I like this show, but I still have most of last season unwatched on my Tivo. I gotta catch up on it because it is pretty good.

CLOSER: The title refers to a LA deputy police chief who closes tough cases. It is said that lead actress Kyra Sedgewick wanted to be in a show where "the smartest person in the room has a southern accent" and this qualifies. She cracks difficult cases, while dealing with her own demons, as good as anyone.

COLONY: This is a unrealistic reality show. Seven people (I'm sure more will be added in a future episode) are put into an area to build a colony and rebuild society. The scenario is that a virus killed 99% of the human race, and what's left of the US government is gathering up the survivors and putting small groups of them (with a week of food, and no weapons) into various areas they cannot defend. (This area is infested with a local gang of at least twenty people who attack and loot the colony.) The premise is good, but the scenario is nonsense, which makes the show disappointing to watch. I know what I'd do in a real situation, and I know what I'd do on the show, and they're very different things (but both involve smashing the head of a raider with a baseball bat).

COVERT AFFAIRS: Ok, it's a romp that has very little to do with real spies, but its fun to watch eye candy smacking people. It has helped me get over my withdrawal symptoms from ALIAS.

DEADLIEST CATCH: I continue to watch and love the show about fishing boats in the Bering Sea (which has now ended for this season), but the loss of Captain Phil Harris tore my heart out. I hope his boys manage to keep their ship, Cornelia Marie, and keep it at sea.

DEADLIEST WARRIOR: Other than the overblown narrator, I like the show. It's about computer-generated matchups between warriors who have never fought (Alexander the Great versus Attila the Hun, Taliban versus IRA) and some that have (CIA versus KGB). They have real guys (or descendants of real guys) from the protagonist teams demonstrate various weapons and trash-talk the other experts. Many of the weapons selections leave me wondering "who thought that was a good idea?" I was proud to see the Navy SEALs beat the Israelis, but I have my doubts that a Comanche can actually beat a Mongol.

DESIGN STAR: Another of Leanna's shows that I watch, but I don't mind this one quite so much as others. A bunch of interior decorators are taken to New York (as opposed to somewhere they should be sent, say, Pluto) and given a series of challenges, sometimes in teams and sometimes alone. They might, for example, decorate an apartment. In the end, the winner gets his own TV show for a year, a show Leanna will watch but which I will not.

DUAL SURVIVAL: I love this show, as I love most but not all "survival" shows. I thought what I was going to like was the constant war between the Army Ranger and the Bush Hippie, but they both seem to have grown to like each other and respect each other's abilities. They each approach a given situation from a different angle with the same goal, and I'm not sure either one could survive alone.

EUREKA: Now in the third or fourth season, they have re-launched this show, after an accident slightly changed the timeline (and the present). This meant that a scientist from the 1940s (played by Gaius Baltar) got sent to 2010 and he has (of course) a secret agenda. The reasonably intelligent sheriff has to keep order in a town inhabited by people who all have multiple Ph.Ds and IQs over 200, meaning that the one normal guy is the freak and the dummy.

GOOD GUYS: A cop show, and a buddy show, with a twist. Dan (who saved the governor's son decades ago and cannot be fired, even if he's the worst cop in Dallas) is partnered with a young eager detective (the son of Tom Hanks) but they get the least-important cases (broken street lights, damaged vending machines, and so forth). These unimportant cases always lead them to the biggest case of the month. I've been to Dallas a dozen times and never heard anybody with the over-the-top Texas accent used on this show. It is, however, very cleverly written and the girl DA (the actress played a demon on a canceled show I used to watch) is to die for. She can prosecute me any time.

HELL'S KITCHEN: If I could cook, I'd be Gordon Ramsay, but then, if Hitler could cook, HE'D be Gordon Ramsay. I think that the show is well run, even if I cannot eat 90% of what they cook (due to my allergies). What I love is that Ramsay makes up the rules as he goes along, sometimes eliminating a player who wasn't nominated, and (one recent week) not eliminating anyone because they all worked together so well.

HAVEN: A new show, about a small town in Maine where strange paranormal stuff happens (and nobody seems to think it's a reason to move to another town). I love the FBI agent (as long as she doesn't tie her hair behind her head) and Leanna likes the brooding cop and bad-boy ship captains who are competing for her attention.

ICE ROAD TRUCKERS: One of my favorites (I seem to have so many of those), not least because it has Lisa (Sugar Britches), the prettiest girl on television. If you don't know, this is about guys (and Lisa) driving big trucks in Alaska. (The earliest seasons were in Canada). The road to Pruhoe Bay is only open in winter (since it's a dirt road and is only drivable when frozen solid). It's narrow, twisting, with lots of steep hills and lots and lots of trucks driving very fast. Throw in nighttime driving, blizzards, and, well, it's just fun.

LEVERAGE: A group of bored criminals (a thief, a con artist, a computer hacker, a martial arts guy, and an insurance investigator) go legit, and conduct Mission Impossible style attacks on people who are still criminals (such as crooked politicians, or a record producer who steals the songs of young singers through goofy contracts). Some of it doesn't make sense, but the women are nice to look at, the muscle guy used to be on Angel and Buffy, and Timothy Hutton keeps Leanna's interest.

MAN, WOMAN, WILD: The husband is a US Army Green Beret, and the wife is a British blonde reporter who is afraid of snakes. The producers drop them in strange areas and tell them to survive and self-rescue. It's kind of an excuse for the survival expert (hubby) to explain outdoor things in detail to an intelligent city girl, such as why he had to wrestle a crocodile, kill it, and cook it. She takes it in good stride and even killed a possum. This is one of those "presented situation survival" shows in that there is a camera crew standing there (with guns in case a real lion shows up or the crocodile gets a grip on hubby's leg) and instead of the show being about what they really find, it's about what might logically be found. (The producers go find THAT and put it in front of the couple so they can "demonstrate" how to deal with whatever it is.)

NUMB3RS: Ok, this is not a summer show, and it's been on for five years, but Leanna and I never watched it before and are now working our way through rented DVDs. The hero FBI agent has a brother who is a 200 IQ math professor and predicts criminal behavior through equations. I mostly watch it for the cute FBI girl who used to be on SLIDERS.

PROJECT RUNWAY: How many seasons is this thing now, eight? Anyway, this is a reality competition with a dozen of so fashion designers and dress makers, who have to create a new outfit every week, sometimes in teams and sometimes alone. There are real problems for designers who don't know how to sew; you would think anyone selected for the show would learn how before arriving. (But then, you'd think that anybody going on Survivor would learn how to make fire.)

RIZZOLI AND ISLES: A fairly new show, with two good looking women (a detective and a coroner) cracking cases while dealing with their own "issues" most of which revolve around their failure to get quality dates with hot guys. I don't think that this show will survive, but it's fun enough. I just wish that the much better Women's Murder Club had survived. At least it's good to see Kate from NCIS back on TV.

ROYAL PAINS: Your typical medical mystery disease of the week show. The doctor and his sexy Indian (as in India, not Native American) assistant try to figure out what disease some rich person from the Hamptons has while the doctor's idiot brother and criminal con man father cause trouble. It would be a much better show if the brother and father got eaten by the pet shark that their landlord keeps in the basement.

THROUGH THE WORMHOLE: This is a vehicle for Morgan Freeman, but it has some good science. I was shocked and intrigued that they had actually found the black hole at the center of our galaxy and the stars that orbit so very fast around it.

TOP SHOT: A good show with some very good shooting (and since I shoot at the high-expert level, but not good enough to be on this show, it is something for me to aspire to), but there is a built-in fatal flaw. Some of these guys are experts with things other than guns (bows, crossbows, axes, knives) and making the gun experts shoot those weapons is just silly. I hated that Andre was eliminated because he didn't know how to play poker, when Brad (who can't hit the broad side of a barn) stayed around two weeks too long because he manipulated the vote on elimination.

WAREHOUSE THIRTEEN: This is one of Leanna's favorites, and I watch it because she does. I just don't like any of the people (except for the young tech girl). I have loved every role that CCH Pounder has had, except this one. The premise is that there is a government warehouse full of things like the Ark of the Covenant and Secret Service agents who protect the warehouse and gather more artifacts for it.

WHALE WARS: Another of my favorite shows, although this season seems to have been something of a bust, with almost no whales saved, at least not so far. (The previews says it will get better.) If I win the Powerball lottery, someday, I may buy them a faster ship, maybe something with 40mm autocannons. Or torpedoes.

WHITE COLLAR: I love this show, but want to see more of Tiffani Thiessen. The buddy-concept of Peter and Neil is really great, and I love Neal's friend-attorney. Neil is a professional con man, art forget, and thief who is out on parole to help the FBI catch other con men, art forgers, and thieves.

UNIVERSE: This is an astronomy show, and I love those. I am not sure if this is the third or fourth season. Each episode (a season has maybe ten or twelve episodes) reviews some astronomical phenomenon, or planet, or something. The computer graphics are stunning, and I've learned a lot about the universe, although they don't seem to know some stuff that Morgan Freeman knows.